Introduction: Music Keyboard Drawer
If you produce music with a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) program such as ProTools, Cubase, Logic, Sonar or Garage Band, whether you do film scoring, electronica, hip-hop, rock or pop, you know how handy it would be to have a pull-out drawer for your music keyboard so you can play parts into the DAW, but no one makes a commercial product version (I've checked!)
Creating one is not complex or expensive, but a couple of videos I've seen of people making them either miss important steps or take approaches that have problems. I decided to do a full tutorial. I spent less than $50 to build mine, but I already had some wood finish, brackets and all the screws I needed. To buy everything (including the finish) should run you around $85.
Step 1: Measure, Measure, Measure Part 1: Height
You will be much happier with the results if you figure out the compromises before you start building or even ordering the parts. You probably have less vertical clearance for your drawer than the green alien does in my remarkably poor drawing. It is important that you measure that clearance first. Mine was 3-3/4" when I measured it. It turned out that this was not enough for the drawer I wanted, so I lowered my chair by 1/2" to give me 4-1/4" of clearance.
Next, you need to figure out how high your drawer assembly will be. The end pieces need to be taller than the keyboard you want to use. My Alesis Q49 keyboard is only about 2-1/2" high, but I wanted to leave a little extra room in case I want to replace the keyboard with a larger one. I made my end pieces 3-3/8" high. My entire drawer assembly, including the bottom thickness and the top spacing is 4-1/8", which is less than my 4-1/4" clearance.
Step 2: Measure, Measure, Measure Part 2: Width/Depth
Measure the width of your keyboard. The end pieces of the keyboard are 3/4" wide, so your drawer will be 1-1/2" wider than the space you allow for your keyboard. My drawer is 36" wide overall, providing a 34-1/2" space for my keyboard. The keyboard is just 32" wide, so there is some extra space.
I made my drawer 10" deep, which is the shortest length I could find drawer slides for. My keyboard is only 7" deep, so this depth works well.
Once you know the width and depth, now is the time to look at the underside of the table you want to mount the drawer to. Angle brackets will extend 2" out on either side of the drawer the way I've done them. Ensure that the drawer will not hit anything even when fully closed.
Step 3: Get the Parts You Need
I used 10" drawer slides, which you can find here. At the same link, you can also find 12", 14" and 16" slides. The pair of slides I used was less than $12.
I used walnut wood pieces as the end pieces, which you can find here, and the pair of pieces was less than $14. They are 12" x 4". I cut them down to 10" x 3-3/8".
For the bottom I used a piece of 1/2" finish plywood you can find at any home improvement store. My drawer used a piece I cut to 10" x 36" from a 24" x 48" sheet.
I also used 4 angle brackets you can find here. The bag of 10 brackets costs about $6.
I finished the wood with some Watco Danish Oil finish I had lying around, but any similar finish should work. If you want the one I used, you can find it here.
You will also need some wood screws and some machine screws and nuts. I'll describe them as I go along.
Step 4: Start the Assembly
Cut the wood to the size required. A table saw is the best tool for cutting the wood in this project. The end pieces should be the same length as the depth of the drawer.
Drill two holes in each end piece and in the bottom piece where the end piece will be mounted. Use a wood screw through each hole to mount it. The screws should be about 2" long.
The distance between the outsides of the end pieces at the front of the drawer and the back of the drawer must be the same! If they are not, the drawer will not work properly. If they are not, remove one of the screws on one of the end pieces and drill a new hole such that when the screw is inserted, the distance is the same.
Once you have the end pieces attached to the bottom, add whatever finish you decide on to the wood before you move to the next step. I used a rag to wipe on the Watco finish, and left it overnight in the garage for the fumes to evaporate.
Step 5: Add the Drawer Slides to the Sides
Remove the inner slide that attaches to the drawer from each drawer slide. If you move the lever circled in the picture, it will allow the inner slide to come out. Attach the inner slide to the end piece at the proper height so that the drawer will sit as intended, using two wood screws in the holes provided. I used 1/2" wood screws. Make sure the piece is oriented with the proper end at the front, and it is level.
Attach two angle brackets to the larger part of the drawer slide using machine screws. I used 1/2" 6-32 screws in the holes provided. I recommend also using a lock washer.
Step 6: Attach the Drawer
It can be tricky to attach the drawer. This is the process I eventually went through.
Without putting the slide mount back on the drawer, I mounted one slide mount to the table using two wood screws on each bracket. I put the other slide mount back on the drawer and slid the drawer assembly onto the slide mount attached to the table.
While supporting the drawer, I marked the correct locations for the other screws. I removed the drawer again from the attached slide mount, and then detached and screwed the other slide mount into place. I then slid the drawer into place.